VoiceMore: Orphan and separated children

This report outlines a VoiceMore project led by a group of young people living in Bidi Bidi refugee settlement in the Yumbe district of northern Uganda, supported by War Child. It details their concerns regarding the situation of orphan and separated children in refugee and host communities, what they feel are the causes and consequences, the research they designed and conducted, and their recommendations for ways to address the issue.


In summer 2018 War Child UK collaborated with our sister organisations War Child Holland (WCH) to set-up our first joint VoiceMore project together. War Child Holland has worked in Uganda since 2004 initially focussing on children and young people affected by the 20-year long conflict between the government and Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), providing protection, education and psychosocial support to children and families. WCH shifted its focus to respond to the influx of South Sudanese refugee children and youth in 2017.

Young people living in Bidi Bidi refugee settlement in the Yumbe district of northern Uganda were invited to join the VoiceMore programme in August. Youth who expressed interest from the South Sudanese refugee community and the Uganda host community were brought together into two groups to complete their spokesperson and advocacy training. A total of 30 young people aged between 15-25 of mixed gender took part. 

They reported that:

  • Orphans were being forced to work, either doing dangerous jobs or spending hours on domestic labour.
  • Those children often didn't have any clothes and could be seen on the streets partially naked, wearing little more than rags.
  • Some female orphans as young as 12 were engaging in survival sex for money or food.
  • Orphans were not able to go to school or access health services due to fees and the requirement to be accompanied or enrolled by an adult. 

The group conducted the first ever youth-led count of orphans in both the refugee and host communities. Using random sampling in Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement, the group found that NGOs and the Government were underestimating the number of orphans and separated children. They also found that:

  • 54% of households had at least one orphan or separated child. This was 58% in the refugee population and 51% in the host community.
  • 25% of children in the settlement were orphans or separated children.
  • Only 12% of refugee households and 4% of host community households with orphans were receiving any form of support.
  • Host community children were most likely to have been orphaned because of illness, compared to refugee orphans who were most likely to have lost their parents to war. 


Download the full and summary reports to read more.